Remelluri: Vertical '06 - '11
Updated: May 2
Can you feel it too? There's a magical aura in the air every time we have to do a vertical tasting. It's perhaps the anticipation of those who are aware of being about to take an ephemeral trip to the past. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, a vertical tasting is nothing more than a typology of wine tasting in which wines from different vintages but from the same producer are tasted. This is a practice in which each glass turns into a little time-traveling machine. An exercise that allows us both to evaluate how the passage of time affects the evolution of a specific vintage, and to undertake an X-ray that tells us a tale about how the weather conditions of that particular year were and the interpretation that the winemaker himself makes of it in order to be able to capture a wine with a unique, personal character which would be the faithful reflection of what Mother Nature has given to its vineyards.
We must thank Alma de Vinos Únicos for sending us this fantastic vertical composed by Remelluri's Reserva ranging from 2006 to 2011vintages (both included).
Remelluri is one of the historical names within the region, however its modern history is impossible to be understood without the breath of fresh air brought about by the return to home of Telmo Rodríguez.
We owed the existence of La Granja de Nuestra Señora de Remelluri to Jaime Rodríguez (Telmo's father), who acquired an old property (founded by Hieronymite monks) plus 20 hectares of surrounding vineyards back in 1967. This property was a monastery, which has been turned into what the current winery is today.
Since the very beginning, Remelluri has become a benchmark in La Rioja, being one of the first wineries to exclusively vinify the grapes that surround the winery in the style of what Bordeaux châteaux were doing at that time. It'll be in 2009 when Telmo returns back.
Revolutionary times for the estate came along with him. The first decision he took was to create a new line of wines with all the grapes from external growers (which represented 40% of the grapes vinified on the property). He called the new labels Lindes (borders) because those vineyards neighbored with their own vineyards. Thus, two new reds were launched in 2010: Lindes de Labastida and Lindes de San Vicente. The idea was to showcase the clear differences between the two towns where the Remelluri winegrowers were settled: earlier harvests, more mature and more structured character from San Vicente; higher altitude, freshness and slow maturation from Labastida.
Since 2009, Remelluri Reserva (which is also the winery's flagship wine) is only made 100% with grapes coming from vineyards grown within their property. The average age of the vineyard is 40 y/o, but they have some vines that date back to 1918. 94 hecatares in total, 148 plots spread over three small valleys at the foot of Mount Toloño. A spectacular limestone mountain (1272 meters high) protects the property from Atlantic storms. At its feet (800 meters above sea level) there's a holm oak forests which merges with the first vineyards. This bucolic scenery favors a soft and late maturation of the grapes during ripening season.
Telmo brought a biodynamic approach too, avoiding the usage of systemic products or herbicides to treat the vineyards, thus enhancing the typicality of a privileged and historical place within Rioja. Every single vineyard has a different vegetative cover, depending on the needs and characteristics of each soil. For Telmo, working ecologically means fundamentally a respect for the life of its soils. It is about bringing and old style back to life. A style that recovers co-plantation in his vineyards. In La Rioja, as in other many parts of Spain, the fact that in the same estate there were several varieties planted has long been forgotten. In Remelluri, Telmo has returned to this co-plantation.
Remelluri Reserva will be a blend of Tempranillo with other traditional red varieties of Rioja such as Garnacha, Graciano and a bit of Mazuelo. In certain vintages, this blend is also reinforced with some Viura and Malvasía Riojana, both white varietals. The blend includes Garnacha, which in this land acquires a marked Atlantic character and, Telmo Rodríguez, wants to increase its presence up to 20-25% in the future.
At Remelluri they are brave enough to capture the essence of each vintage. It could be better or worse, doesn’t matter, as their aim is not to homogenize their wines, achieving a more authentic character. This supposes a tremendous sacrifice since this is a commitment not to grow in volume, remaining faithful to the quality & authenticity of their wines.
At the winery, Remelluri does not focus on wines with a marked oaky character & an oxidative profile, but that are soil-driven and expressing freshness and fruit.
This style is given by an arduous work that entails that each small plot of those that are part of Remelluri is vinified separately. This is also a reaction to the work of other large Rioja wineries that tend to homogenise, mixing all the musts from all their plots all together. In the case of Remelluri, they try to squeeze the expression of each single vineyard before blending.
Remelluri ‘s wines always have something to tell on the palate. And we were witnesses of that in this vertical.
‘06 —> Displaying a superb youthful character at first sight. Great primary character (more on the dark fruit) with tertiaries coming through subtlety. Chewy tannins (still need time in bottle) dominate a wide mouth filled with brilliant nerve. Super fine, pleasantly long bitter finish.
‘07 —> A bit more evolved than ‘06. There’s an attractive floral & herbal character. ‘07 shows a prominent red fruit character & a bigger mouth than ‘06 with sweeter tannins but not as savory. Still focused on the fruit.
‘08 —> Bottle was corked unfortunately.
‘09 —> There's some Viura & Malvasía Riojana within the blend. Telmo’s first vintage. Some of the barriques have been renewed & you can feel it in the wine: There some beautiful aniseed nuances, vanillas, toffee, meringue... Powerful tannin but silky mouthfeel. The fruit is too shy, hiding behind the oak.
‘10 —> The more “vivace” within the 5 of them. Tannins are ripe, sweet and not so prominent. Elegant & joyful. The nose bring us back to ‘06 a bit.
‘11 —> There’s some wine made in foudre. Super concentrated, perfumed, juicy, greedy, chewy, polished & long. Possibly it’ll become the finest of all of them in 10 years time. Superb viticultural work.
President of the Spanish Sommelier Association